Sign in to follow this  
TopBilled

Believability in certain roles

130 posts in this topic

 

Interesting point. But this is the way I see it, and, based on what various moderators have said in referring us to the Code, it is not open to posters to make assumptions about things that are not there. Although this is really not relevant to our recent arguments in this thread, I was indeed surprised to see that the Code includes nothing about this being a site for movies-only discussions! 
 
In revamping the site, the Off-Topic space was added, which is great. The inspiration seemed to be, NOT that there were specifically non-movie threads in General Discussions, but that posters writing in threads with very specific subjects were too often segueing into different topics, many times politics and other potentially inflammatory issues. But sometimes just segueing to innocuous topics, (even often film related but not related to the thread) which had only a vague or no connection to the thread topic. And that led to irritation and arguments.
 
On the other hand, of course we're all here to discuss films -- that's what brings us here. I have seen the Code enforced inconsistently -- one time a television star's obit was moved to Off-Topic; another time not. 

 

I cannot speak for the moderator's decisions, but I think some of the inconsistency comes from the fact the moderator may not know certain threads exist. I would say the moderator does not read every thread on every forum. So if something is not reported to him, it could stay in a forum and fall to page two or beyond, and until it returns to page one and someone reports it, there it stays for the time being.

 

I do think TV star obits are off-topic (if the performer did not really appear in classic feature films)-- and this also applies to musicians. I am sure when Linda Ronstadt dies, or a member of Fleetwood Mac dies, immediately there will be a thread about it in General Discussions. But these people are not classic movie performers. And it will be reported and moved. This will keep happening as long as people keep associating a classic movie site with all things related to pop culture. So I do hope they add more specific language in the Code of Conduct about acceptable content as well as acceptable behavior. I do not see it as being fundamentalist but having a set of guidelines to define things more accurately.

 

It should be pointed out that the Code of Conduct says nothing about sub-forums being more specific and less general discussion. Though I can see where someone might perceive the sub-forums as leading to more specific genre-based discussion. My own personal view about the sub-forums is that they are not only genre-based but that the 'sub' part refers to sub-topics that still fall under General Discussions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding casting and believability of actors in certain roles--

 

In the late 90s, actress Anne Heche (who had spent four years playing straight twins on a daytime soap) began to get cast as leads in Hollywood films. One of them was a big budget production with Harrison Ford. But then, around this time, she announced she was bisexual and living with Ellen Degeneres. Their relationship was very public though it did not last, with Anne eventually marrying an actor. She has since had two children.

 

Did her career experience any setbacks related to this? Audiences seem to accept her playing heterosexual women. Not sure if she's played gay or bisexual characters on screen...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Interesting point. But this is the way I see it, and, based on what various moderators have said in referring us to the Code, it is not open to posters to make assumptions about things that are not there. Although this is really not relevant to our recent arguments in this thread, I was indeed surprised to see that the Code includes nothing about this being a site for movies-only discussions! 
 
In revamping the site, the Off-Topic space was added, which is great. The inspiration seemed to be, NOT that there were specifically non-movie threads in General Discussions, but that posters writing in threads with very specific subjects were too often segueing into different topics, many times politics and other potentially inflammatory issues. But sometimes just segueing to innocuous topics, (even often film related but not related to the thread) which had only a vague or no connection to the thread topic. And that led to irritation and arguments.
 
On the other hand, of course we're all here to discuss films -- that's what brings us here. I have seen the Code enforced inconsistently -- one time a television star's obit was moved to Off-Topic; another time not. Similarly with television programs. There have been disagreements because certain people feel that only classic films should be discussed on this Board (and who but one or two people has the nerve to try to define that amorphous term!) There is no evidence in the Code that that's the case, and posters are not invited to infer.
 
James -- specific to the way you say you view threads, which is not to care where a thread is: Our friend TB, though his comments in the past in General Discussions, has indicated it matters to him very much where a thread resides, and has clearly stated that, when he feels a thread should be in another part of the Board. I don't care too much; I tend to care more in the Sub-Genre forums, because they are so specific and are not General Discussions (until recently). 
 
So -- the question of the fact that no where does it say in the Code of Conduct that this Board is for the discussion of movies is really academic. Of course we're here to discuss movies. But a strict constructionist would say that there is no evidence for that in the Code. And, for better or worse, we seem to be living in an age of fundamentalism, whether we're referring to the Bible, the Constitution, or the TCM Code of Conduct.

 

 

Based on what I have read,  the placing of any type of thread in General Discussions manners a lot to many users here,  because they only wish to view what is in General Discussions and create any and all threads in GD (since GD is the ONLY forum they wish to use)

 

They have complained that they missed what was going on in a thread because it was NOT in GD and they have created redundant threads in GD since they didn't know a thread on the same topic was already created outside of GD;  (e.g. a musician had died and someone  created a thread about this under 'chit-chat',  those that ONLY use GD create a redundant thread in GD).

 

Therefore when the moderator moves a thread out of GD it upsets these 'only GD users' since they can no longer view the thread. 

 

So to me the issue here (yea,  nonsense issue but hey,  here we are discussing it,  ha ha) isn't if, based on a thread's topic,  if that thread "belongs in" GD or not,  but that many users here wish there was only ONE forum, where ALL treads were located since they only wish to use ONE forum.    

 

This is why I offered the automated solution where GD because a special forum that contains all threads regardless of what forum a thread was originally created in. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True, which is why there is the image-consciousness analyses there are....

 

...Hollywood is trying to make more female-perspective films, and while its a work in progress, we are on the verge of seeing a more authentic Hollywood than before if progress progresses and its not just a fad. Cate Blanchett was right to say that women in film and film that features women are not niche experiences. They are universal. Same for LBGT and people of color. 

I missed this post recently, and I wanted to add a basic comment or two on some of the points you make.

 

First, I think we have to keep in mind that a movie's primary purpose is to entertain. Any story that is too aggressive in its attempts to be progressive may flop, if it fails to entertain. I would think the goal is to make sure a story reaches as wide an audience as possible. Not for something to close after one weekend in theaters (even if its lofty aim is to be an agent of social change).  

 

As for image consciousness analysis, sometimes we have people (theorists and critics) who are over-analyzing films. I've been guilty of that in the past. But what good does it serve, if the films are not being watched by the 'right' people?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I missed this post recently, and I wanted to add a basic comment or two on some of the points you make.

 

First, I think we have to keep in mind that a movie's primary purpose is to entertain. Any story that is too aggressive in its attempts to be progressive may flop, if it fails to entertain. I would think the goal is to make sure a story reaches as wide an audience as possible. Not for something to close after one weekend in theaters (even if its lofty aim is to be an agent of social change).  

 

As for image consciousness analysis, sometimes we have people (theorists and critics) who are over-analyzing films. I've been guilty of that in the past. But what good does it serve, if the films are not being watched by the 'right' people?

I get your point about over analysis of films. No one sounds more self-important than a self-proclaimed film critic who thinks they know high art better than most artists and most audiences. 

 

This subject though, is different and away from that, because with the cases previously mentioned and the examples made regarding authentic representation, the people who don't feel authentically represented have a right to be critical, especially if there is a history of neglected representation. 

 

There are ways films entertain and inform at the same time. For example, 9 to 5. People had a sense of what sexual harassment was kind of before that film came out. But it took that film and the angle of comedy for us to see what it actually looked like, and from their perspective. We( or at least I) was laughing at sexual harassment. Should every film breach culturally sensitive and hot button issues with comedy as means to entertain? No. It really depends on how its taken by the audience, and what constitutes the audience. 

 

Hollywood as of late is trying to get over the young  white male age 18-32 gap that has defined their programming. Let alone the older white male age. Come award season, it's only authentic so long as its contained to a point. It's business, even if it looks risky to recognize. One recognition fits all, lest we look too backward. I've been noticing it as of late, and noticing the current trend of recognizing actors for their performances in relation to Alzheimer's Disease related movies. The system is getting old, and movies are catering to that industrial need. 

 

But the counterbalance is that audiences do want more authenticity in the films they see. They want Hollywood to acknowledge that their individual group identity is bankable and not niche experiences. We shouldn't have to wait for Oscar season to see this year's diversity film, be it centered around race or sexual orientation or even gender. And, it shouldn't be near the end of the year when studios can behind and release these types of film for recognition's sake, let alone just releasing one and paying attention to that one. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This subject though, is different and away from that, because with the cases previously mentioned and the examples made regarding authentic representation, the people who don't feel authentically represented have a right to be critical, especially if there is a history of neglected representation. 

 

But I do think there is a limit to how critical people should be. We all know that some minority groups overstate the unfairness and abuse they claim to have suffered, which in those highly exaggerated terms almost defeats their cause. Plus, at a point, you have to ask if they're authentically progressive or just authentic complainers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But I do think there is a limit to how critical people should be. We all know that some minority groups overstate the unfairness and abuse they claim to have suffered, which in those highly exaggerated terms almost defeats their cause. Plus, at a point, you have to ask if they're authentically progressive or just authentic complainers.

I feel the same way about white heterosexual men when they complain about how little represented they are in the mainstream, and how people who barely get represented in media have wrong impressions of them. I think these complaints overstate the unfairness and abuse they claim to have suffered when really they are the ones doing the oppressing and that reality supersedes their "cause." At one point, I have to ask myself who are they to complain when they benefit from the systems they put in place, and who are they to denounce someone's authentic voice when they aren't even comfortable in their own to let others speak. 

Edited by hepclassic
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel the same way about white heterosexual men when they complain about how little represented they are in the mainstream, and how people who barely get represented in media have wrong impressions of them. I think these complaints overstate the unfairness and abuse they claim to have suffered when really they are the ones doing the oppressing and that reality supersedes their "cause." At one point, I have to ask myself who are they to complain when they benefit from the systems they put in place, and who are they to denounce someone's authentic voice when they aren't even comfortable in their own to let others speak. 

Good post, looking at it from the reverse angle. I can't add anything more to that.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I realized our discussion has been heavily focused on the men-- but this obviously applies to women, too-- the idea of believability in certain roles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How do you mean? When men play women or vice versa? 

No, not exactly (though that would be an interesting topic for sure). I meant more about how closeted lesbians play straight characters on screen. Even out lesbians sometimes play straight characters.

 

For instance, Ellen Degeneres plays a straight woman in THE LOVE LETTER (1999). She has a scene, if I remember correctly, where she kisses Tom Selleck.

 

Don't find her very believable, though maybe I'm just jealous because I want to kiss Tom Selleck. LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, not exactly (though that would be an interesting topic for sure). I meant more about how closeted lesbians play straight characters on screen. Even out lesbians sometimes play straight characters.

 

For instance, Ellen Degeneres plays a straight woman in THE LOVE LETTER (1999). She has a scene, if I remember correctly, where she kisses Tom Selleck.

 

Don't find her very believable, though maybe I'm just jealous because I want to kiss Tom Selleck. LOL

 

I wonder to what degree does knowing about the actor's personal life influence if we find a character believable in the situations you mention.       Yea,  most of us would like to say 'none',  but I question if that is the case,  even for myself.   

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder to what degree does knowing about the actor's personal life influence if we find a character believable in the situations you mention.       Yea,  most of us would like to say 'none',  but I question if that is the case,  even for myself.   

Excellent post. I think it registers on some level. If we read an article about someone in a magazine, or we see them interviewed by Barbara Walters, yes it's going to affect how we view them and interpret their screen work. How can it not? Of course, we realize the situations are fictional-- but the performer is tapping into known emotions and in this case known sexual dynamics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, not exactly (though that would be an interesting topic for sure). I meant more about how closeted lesbians play straight characters on screen. Even out lesbians sometimes play straight characters.

 

For instance, Ellen Degeneres plays a straight woman in THE LOVE LETTER (1999). She has a scene, if I remember correctly, where she kisses Tom Selleck.

 

Don't find her very believable, though maybe I'm just jealous because I want to kiss Tom Selleck. LOL

Lesbianism isn't much explored authentically in the mainstream. I wish I could want to kiss Tom Selleck, unfortunately, this is where our tastes differ. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lesbianism isn't much explored authentically in the mainstream. I wish I could want to kiss Tom Selleck, unfortunately, this is where our tastes differ. 

Funny. I think he is at his peak in THREE MEN AND A BABY. But he still looks good in THE LOVE LETTERS. 

 

I cannot comment much on lesbianism since I am obviously no real expert about it. :)

 

But I would think the believability issue covers these types of portrayals on screen, just as they do with gay male characters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny. I think he is at his peak in THREE MEN AND A BABY. But he still looks good in THE LOVE LETTERS. 

 

I cannot comment much on lesbianism since I am obviously no real expert about it. :)

 

But I would think the believability issue covers these types of portrayals on screen, just as they do with gay male characters.

Well, the only film I can think of that somewhat shows lesbianism in an authentic, positive light is The Kids Are Alright from 2010 with Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, but even so, certain things from the script and the perception of it didn't quite hit the mark with me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, the only film I can think of that somewhat shows lesbianism in an authentic, positive light is The Kids Are Alright from 2010 with Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, but even so, certain things from the script and the perception of it didn't quite hit the mark with me. 

I've never seen it...I will have to look for it. Why do you feel it is more authentic than other films of its type?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never seen it...I will have to look for it. Why do you feel it is more authentic than other films of its type?

Because it shows lesbians as people with complex lives who aren't just complex because they are lesbians. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Because it shows lesbians as people with complex lives who aren't just complex because they are lesbians. 

That makes sense. And I do think that's the problem with most well-meaning gay or lesbian stories on screen. They become not only a form of preachment but also they make it seem like being homosexual is the only conflict or drama that occurs in these people's lives. These characters still have to hold down a job, pay the bills and get the dog to the vet when it's sick. Lives can be interesting and complex, with the sexuality issue still present but backgrounded, as other conflicts would (and should) drive the narrative as well.

 

This definitely relates to the idea of the story's believabiilty as a whole.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That makes sense. And I do think that's the problem with most well-meaning gay or lesbian stories on screen. They become not only a form of preachment but also they make it seem like being homosexual is the only conflict or drama that occurs in these people's lives. These characters still have to hold down a job, pay the bills and get the dog to the vet when it's sick. Lives can be interesting and complex, with the sexuality issue still present but backgrounded, as other conflicts would (and should) drive the narrative as well.

 

This definitely relates to the idea of the story's believabiilty as a whole.

I think that's true with any "minority" on screen, what is wanted the most, that their difference is just a normal, and that there's nothing wrong with that. But films reflect society in that lesbianism isn't normal for many who aren't lesbian themselves, and that's just one example. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that's true with any "minority" on screen, what is wanted the most, that their difference is just a normal, and that there's nothing wrong with that. But films reflect society in that lesbianism isn't normal for many who aren't lesbian themselves, and that's just one example. 

 

But most movie leading character are not 'normal';   i.e. plots tend to focus on behaviors and \ or situations that are not what one see in everyday life.    Therefore at the core of all acting is to overstate people and situations.   The question becomes to what degree (thankfully not all dramas are like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf!).  

 

I do agree that when a character is from a minority group,  most of the time there is an added amount of  'juice' put into place to help ensure audience members can clearly separate this character from other characters (say 'majority' group characters).      I have seen a trend where producers are toning it down but I still find that too often certain minority characters come off as much too obvious (like they are wearing a sign that says 'this is that type of person").    To me this is just poor filmmaking.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But most movie leading character are not 'normal';   i.e. plots tend to focus on behaviors and \ or situations that are not what one see in everyday life.    Therefore at the core of all acting is to overstate people and situations.   The question becomes to what degree (thankfully not all dramas are like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf!).  

 

I do agree that when a character is from a minority group,  most of the time there is an added amount of  'juice' put into place to help ensure audience members can clearly separate this character from other characters (say 'majority' group characters).      I have seen a trend where producers are toning it down but I still find that too often certain minority characters come off as much too obvious (like they are wearing a sign that says 'this is that type of person").    To me this is just poor filmmaking.   

I agree it is poor filmmaking when they do that, james. Personally, I believe they engage in this practice so they can transparently make it obvious who they are marketing a film to-- a black character has to be very much the stereotypical black character, so black audiences know the film is being advertised for them (at least that is how some of these dimwitted producers and studio bosses think).

 

This also applies to gay and lesbian characters and the marketing aims involving those groups. Also, it serves another purpose-- mainly that mainstream audiences (typically young white male audiences) can quickly classify someone as not like them-- oh, that's the black man, that's the gay man, sort of thing-- which reinforces their own strange sense of superiority in a hegemonic society.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw the movie Making Love on MOVIES-TV the other day.    Very believable with regards to the characters in the film,  with a mature view of what is going on.    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw the movie Making Love on MOVIES-TV the other day.    Very believable with regards to the characters in the film,  with a mature view of what is going on.    

Yes...what I liked about MAKING LOVE was that nobody was really the villain. And Harry Hamlin, a straight actor, seemed to plunge right in and take every risk he had to take for the character to work. That's what a real actor does-- he acts it all the way, unafraid. It's a fearless performance and mostly fearless movie.

 

It's also nice seeing Wendy Hiller in one of her final screen roles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree it is poor filmmaking when they do that, james. Personally, I believe they engage in this practice so they can transparently make it obvious who they are marketing a film to-- a black character has to be very much the stereotypical black character, so black audiences know the film is being advertised for them (at least that is how some of these dimwitted producers and studio bosses think).

 

This also applies to gay and lesbian characters and the marketing aims involving those groups. Also, it serves another purpose-- mainly that mainstream audiences (typically young white male audiences) can quickly classify someone as not like them-- oh, that's the black man, that's the gay man, sort of thing-- which reinforces their own strange sense of superiority in a hegemonic society.

I think that is why people take issue with African-Americans portraying maids and butlers, even amid the trend of seeing them in authentic actuality. With The Help( 2011), it didn't matter that Aiblieen Clark and Minny Jackson represented the struggles of being maids because that was their only economic opportunity in thriving Jim Crow Mississippi, it was more of a matter that Emma Stone as Skeeter got more screen time and intervened on behalf of the women she was writing about creating a guise of white saviorhood rather than have Aiblieen and Minny lead the story through their perspective. Though performances filled in the blanks and Davis insisted on more equal revisions in script of her character, to many it came across as another white savior film this side of The Blind Side(2009). 

 

This could also explain the reticence behind The Butler(2013), because the director of the film is African-American, gay African-American at that, and the film was in the perspective of an African-American man who makes a living for his family from the 1950s to the 1980s working as a butler in the White House, in the midst of a changing American society during that time, that his son represents and is ungrateful for his vocational servitude. The reticence came from mostly white critics, commentators, and audience attendants, who did not like seeing Ronald Reagan condoning South African apartheid(which is based in historical fact) as well as seeing Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. This reticence, in my opinion, can be explained by the idea that white characters might not always be leads in every single movie, and that it is somehow wrong to reduce them to supporting characters regardless of script and perspective. Of course, the reticence came from individuals who identify as African-American as well, because the viewing audience is sick of seeing films of their constructed identity as maids and butlers.

 

Something that intersects the GLBT and the American of color struggle in film and life is representation, and I guess the questions we as viewers can ask ourselves is:

 

"Why do we feel threatened when we see something in the point of view from a socially deemed 'other?'"

 

"What is the logic behind this fear?"

 

"If logical, what is the real base of it?"

 

"If illogical, where do we go from here?"    

 

Sometimes it depends on how well a film communicates artistically to deserve the responses they get. It would be great if a film based on the story of or encountering a "minority" character wasn't passed off as political all the time, because their political is their normal, and the people who feel like their expressions are political and not coming from an authentic, normal voice, it is more the people upset by it than the people who are scapegoated because an excellent artistic message about human beings often not thought of as human that are at fault. Art should get under the skin a little for it to be effective.                                                                                                                                                                                       

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us